Working out is one of the most important parts of pregnancy. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women engage in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week. This could include brisk walking or swimming for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Working out keeps you healthy, ensures that the baby develops properly, and may even make labor and delivery easier by reducing stress on your body. Exercise also helps with pregnancy-related discomforts such as backaches and joint pain and helps prevent preterm labor.
Many exercises can help you stay fit. However, knowing which workout is safe and how to do it safely during pregnancy has become challenging.
That’s why we have written this article. Check out these safe and friendly workouts you can do when pregnant to help you stay fit.
Safe Exercises for Pregnant Women
You should be able to start exercising in the first trimester. If you regularly exercised before your pregnancy, you can continue the same routine but with some added moderation. However, if you have never exercised before, then it is recommended that you start slowly.
The first trimester of pregnancy is essential as this is when most physical changes occur. During this time, the baby will be safely growing, so you should ensure that you don’t strain your body too much at this stage. The following are some safe workouts you can do in your first trimester of pregnancy.
Squats are one of the best exercises you can do to help you stay fit and healthy while pregnant. Squats target the muscles in your legs, hips and buttocks. They also strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which help prevent incontinence after childbirth, and the gluteal muscles, which help support your growing baby during pregnancy. It also helps protect against pregnancy-related low back pain.
To do squats, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell at arm’s length in each hand. Lower by bending your hips toward the floor. Return to the starting position by straightening your legs and raising the dumbbells to shoulder level. Repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
However, you must be careful when doing squats, as you could injure yourself if you don’t go slowly enough. If this happens, consult your doctor about what kind of recovery program is best for you.
Pelvic articulation is a yoga pose that targets your hips and butt. It helps strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor and can also help you sleep better. Pelvic articulation also helps with posture and balance.
To get into this position, step back one foot and lower your back heel. With the other leg extended in front of you and bend it slightly. Keep your feet pointed straight forward as you rotate your pelvis, opening and closing your hips to get movement in your hips. Hold onto a lightweight and raise one elbow back at a time, turning your arms while you swivel the hips to increase the stress on your upper body.
The butt press exercise helps strengthen your core muscles, which will help with your posture and balance. The oblique muscles also get stretched out, which can help reduce stress in your belly area.
Lie flat on the floor with your hips slightly pushed back and knees bent, with your arms comfortably by your sides. Press upwards through your heels while keeping your back straight, squeezing your glutes at the movement’s top.
Bend one knee toward the ceiling, so you feel a stretch in the glutes muscles. Return to starting position slowly without letting go of the glutes throughout the movement.
Kneeling Push Ups
The kneeling pushup workout strengthens your lower body, especially the inner and outer thigh muscles.
Start kneeling with your hands on the ground in front of you, palms facing up and fingers pointing forward. Tighten your abs while you bend your arms. Lower your chest towards the floor without losing stability in your core (hips back, abs engaged). Push your torso back up to start position.
Safe Workouts for Pregnant Women in Second Trimester
The second trimester is a period of rapid growth and development, meaning you may experience discomfort while exercising. Here are some safe exercises to try:
Mermaid stretch is a great way to stretch your belly, back, and arms while also getting much-needed relief from the discomfort that can come with pregnancy. You can also do it to prevent back pain.
Start by sitting on the ground with your knees folded and your feet facing right. Inhale as you raise your left arm in the air. Exhale, and shift your torso towards the right side. You should feel the stretch on the left side. Hold for three seconds, take a deep breath, then turn to the other side (the right side) and back starting position.
Leg lifts help strengthen your abdominal muscles and back. Start on your knees and hands firmly on the floor to do the exercise, keeping your arms straight and hands tucked under your shoulders.
Lift your right knee and straighten it behind your leg; ensure the leg parallels the floor. Repeat to the other side of the leg. Repeat this cycle four times.
This exercise targets your triceps muscle in the chest front and pectorals muscles in the back of the upper arm.
To do wall pushups, stand facing the wall with your hands leaning against the wall. Ensure your feet are apart and your hands greater than shoulder-width apart on the wall.
Keep your eyes focused straight ahead as you bend your elbow and lower chest until your chin touches the wall, then push back up. Repeat this motion as fast as possible with your back straight and without straining yourself.
The step back is an exercise that allows the pregnant woman to strengthen her back muscles and stretch out her lower back.
Start by standing up straight with your feet together, then step your right foot back and lower your back heels down, bending forward to form a long diagonal line from your crown down to your back heel with your arms behind you.
With your back leg straight, elevate the heel high, clench your back glute and push into the ball of your foot to engage your glutes while lifting your arms aloft. Feel a big stretch in the hip flexor, which becomes exceptionally tight throughout pregnancy. Return to your starting position.
The Third Trimester
You will notice a slowdown in your body with everything at this stage. You will not be able to do exercises as you did in the first and second trimesters. This is because your body begins preparing for the child’s birth. Due to that, it’s recommended you do cardiovascular exercises to help you at this stage. The cardiovascular exercises you can do include:
- Walking- Walk for 30 minutes at least three times a week. It’s essential to stroll and break your walk into shorter periods, so you don’t get too tired or overheated.
- Pelvic floor exercise
- Yoga and Pilates
- Bodyweight moves
Unsafe Exercise for Pregnant Women
The following are unsafe workouts for you if you are pregnant
Running marathon, jumping, or any other high-impact exercise
These activities can strain your heart and cause you to become dizzy or light-headed. They also increase the risk of miscarriage. A study showed that jumping could trigger contraction, loosen the ligaments and cause miscarriage.
Exercising near hot surfaces or steam rooms can irritate your skin and cause it to become red or blistered. A high temperature during pregnancy can cause hyperthermia, a condition that can lead to congenital disabilities, premature labor, or miscarriage.
Weight Lifting exercises
Weightlifting leads to preterm delivery, low birth weight babies and even miscarriage. If you feel pain during pregnancy, stop doing the activity immediately.
Planks and Pushups
Doing pushups while pregnant can increase blood pressure in your uterus, which can cause preterm labor and stillbirths. It also increases the likelihood of having a cesarean section or premature birth.
Avoid high-intensity exercises that make you hold your breath or keep your heart raised for a long time.
Sit-ups can cause breathing problems in newborns without fully developed lungs yet.
Other unsafe workouts include contact sports such as volleyball, softball, football and basketball. Boot camp workouts, bouncing while stretching and exercises where falling is most likely, and exercises that need you to lay on your back for more than 3 minutes
Myths About Working Out While Pregnant
Working out while pregnant is a great way to stay fit and healthy. It helps your baby develop the right muscles and strength, allowing them to grow into healthy adults. While it’s crucial for you and your baby’s health, there are some myths about working out during pregnancy that you should know about before you start. They include
1. You can’t Exercise While Pregnant
You can do anything besides lifting weights when pregnant— including walking, running and swimming. But remember that your exercise routine should always include strength training abdominal exercises that strengthen the muscles around the waist.
If you have any doubts about whether an activity is safe during pregnancy or not, don’t do it. It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about exercises that are safe for you during pregnancy.
2. Working Out During Pregnancy is Dangerous for The Baby.
Women who exercise moderately during pregnancy, including aerobic activity and resistance training, are less likely to experience complications such as gestational diabetes or hypertension. You will find that staying active makes you feel better about yourself, which can be helpful for mood and self-esteem issues.
3. Working Out Makes You More Tired
When you’re pregnant, you feel like taking it easy and staying in bed more often than average—that will make your pregnancy more difficult.
Exercising while pregnant is safe, says Dr. Leah Millheiser, the director of maternal-fetal medicine at Stanford University Medical Center ” she says. “There’s no evidence that it has any negative effects.”
It helps you stay motivated and keep your energy levels up so you can get through the challenges of early pregnancy without experiencing any fatigue or exhaustion.
A Pregnant Woman Should Not Exercise If She Did Not exercise Before Pregnancy.
Many women believe this myth is true, but it’s not true. Exercising during pregnancy is beneficial for mother and baby.
Working out during pregnancy has reduced the risk of many pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. It also improves your health and helps keep your weight under control.
What are Some Warning Signs of Quitting Exercising When Pregnant?
If you are pregnant and exercising, it’s essential to know the warning signs that indicate you should stop exercising. These signs include:
- Severe fatigue or lack of energy
- Headaches, joint pain, chest pain or palpitations.
- Feeling dizzy or faint.
- Amniotic fluid leaking
- Getting a lot of swelling in your legs or feet.
- Your skin feels hot or clammy (sweaty).
- Less movement of the baby
- Early labor and painful contractions
- Backache (pain in your lower back)
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath while exercising
- Experiencing frequent or ongoing bleeding
- Panting excessively during exercise
How Soon Should You Exercise After Delivery?
Although there are no hard and fast rules, most women can begin exercising six weeks after giving birth.
If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you may be able to return to regular activity sooner than the recommended six weeks after delivery. Still, you must check with your doctor first.
Waiting for at least six weeks before starting any exercise program allows time for the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size and for the body to recover from the stress of childbirth.
If you had a cesarean birth, exercise has to wait until the six-week mark or even more. Your doctor will tell you when to start exercising and how much activity is acceptable for you.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that women who have given birth vaginally should wait at least six weeks after delivery before starting any strength-building activity.
Being pregnant is not a reason to stop exercising; doing so can harm your and your unborn baby’s health. As long as you proceed safely, you can and should continue your exercise regime during pregnancy.
However, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Follow the steps closely to stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy. Start your training today.